And so, from the dormant volcano that is American politics, out flies Hillary, like Rodan the Flying Reptile pretending to be Granny Goose. Now that she is officially flapping around the electorate, the excitable mainstream press reports the initial caw-caw-cawing of her campaign: it will be “based on diversity, discipline and humbleness.” These are endearing qualities in any giant flying reptile, and reassuring to voters who might otherwise fear something a bit darker on the wing.
The Elmer Fudd in the piece at the moment, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, did get off a clever first shot at the flying behemoth when he cracked that “the presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families,” but it seems to have only provoked a deeper show of humility from the target. She’ll be starting a “listening campaign” to detect rustles of discontent as she banks over the cornfields of Iowa cawing platitudes across the sky, e.g. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times.”
Point of fact: no they haven’t. They are still strewn over the landscape with the economic equivalent of sucking chest wounds, but perhaps a few of them have noticed with vicarious satisfaction the astounding rise of the S & P stock index as they lie in a roadside ditch scanning the skies. It must give them some comfort as their lights go out. Just maybe, their children will also have the chance to become Goldman Sachs employees as history marches on. The flying reptile wants to be their champion! She wants to earn their votes — the old fashioned way, by purchasing as much TV air-time as possible to put across the illusion of sincerity. On such campaigns is the decline of empire propelled.
More to the point, what does the flight of Hillary say about party politics in this land? That a more corrupt and sclerotic dominion has hardly been glimpsed since the last Bourbons cavorted in the halls of Versailles? Hence, my view that America will witness a very peculiar spectacle leading up to and perhaps beyond the 2016 election: the disintegration of seeming normality against a background of mounting disorder and insurrection. Hillary will go on caw-cawing platitudes about togetherness, diversity, and recovery while the economy sinks to new extremes of unravelment, and the anger of a swindled people finally boils over.
Neither party shows even minimal competence for understanding the actual crises facing this land, and indeed the project of techno-industrial civilization itself. If the people don’t overthrow them, and grind their pretenses underfoot, then events surely will. In the trying months leading up to the presidential election of 2016, Americans will witness the death of their “energy independence” fantasy — actually a meme concocted by professional propagandists. The shale oil “miracle” will go up in a vapor of defaulting junk bonds. Violence will escalate through North Africa and the Middle East, threatening the world oil supply more generally. I would give a low-percentage chance of survival to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and to the Saud part of Arabia more particularly as civil war among the rival clans breaks out there, with an overlay of Islamic State mischief seeding even greater chaos, and the very likely prospect of sabotage to the gigantic oil terminal at Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf. In comparison, the fiasco of Benghazi will look like a mere Three Stooges episode.
If a third party were to arise in all this turmoil, it might not be savior brigade, either. In 1856 the Republicans welled up as the Whigs expired in sheer purposelessness and the Democrats romanced slavery. The nation had to endure the greatest convulsion in its lifetime to get to the other side of that. This time, I’m not at all sure we’ll get to the other side in one piece.